Safe Internet Practice
Parents want to provide their children with all the tools necessary for
the future. The Internet is a powerful resource that plays an important
role in the education of children. In 2002, it is estimated that 560 million
people are online around the world. By 2004, it is projected that 945
million will have online access. In Canada, 99% of Canadian youth have
used the Internet at some time, and 79% have access at home. About 48%
use the Internet for one hour each day. *
While the Internet offers enormous positive advantages to empower individuals,
there are also risks for those who do use it. Many individuals who communicate
over the Internet with your children may be unknown to them; good judgement
should be exercised when talking with strangers. Just as we protect our
family from strangers who come into our home, it is important to protect
them from people who can gain access to our home by way of the Internet.
What are Your Children Doing on the Internet?
Direct communication on the Internet can happen in several ways - through
e-mail, chat rooms, and via instant messaging.
E-mail is the sending of electronic messages and files to individuals
or groups who can then respond in their own time. It is one of the most
popular methods of communicating because it is quick, efficient, and fun.
In chat rooms, users connect to a network of servers to chat/type messages
to each other in real time. Full-time monitors - people who can screen
inappropriate content - should always be available for children who are
using chat rooms. However, when conversations are taken into private chat
rooms, monitors no longer have access.
Instant messaging is a personal network or controlled list of people
to talk to in real time. These lists let users know who else is online.
Some Ways You Can Practice Internet Safety
1. Set rules for using the computer.
- Determine who can use the computer.
- Locate the computer in a common area where activities are easily observed.
- Decide the access times and the costs associated with being on the
2. Set rules for personal protection.
- Keep personal information safe. Children need guidance about what
information they can give out safely over the Internet. Personal identity
information including: name, address, phone number, age, gender, photographs,
PIN number, credit card details, school name, and school address should
never be given out to unknown individuals without parental permission.
- Keep passwords private. Make passwords easy for a child to remember
but hard for others to guess. Stress the importance of keeping a password
- Establish what is unacceptable communication. Politeness and clarity
ensure that the tone of the conversation will not be misunderstood when
communicating only in words. Check the etiquette of the Web site and
follow their rules.
- Let your child respond only to messages from people that you personally
know and trust. They should not accept or respond to unknown files.
Children should be taught to recognize uncomfortable situations, and
they should know how to react in a safe manner. Above all, be aware
of what your children are doing, and with whom they are communicating.
Technology can Help You
Become informed about the type of technology available to keep your family
safe on the Internet. Technology can provide some assurances to protect
your family, computers, and files from outsiders.
Filtering Software filters or blocks access to objectionable or
unacceptable Web sites, chat rooms, e-mail, and instant messaging. Filters
can be programmed by parents and/or software companies, and should be
updated on a regular basis. However, filtering software is not foolproof.
Firewalls protect the contents on your computer against people
who want to access it for personal information or to corrupt files. Firewalls
may record traffic that has attempted to gain entry into computer files,
and can often identify those trespassers.
Walled Gardens provide subscribers with access to selected Web
sites that have been pre-approved for content. They offer the highest
level of safety against the access of unsuitable materials.
Child Search Engines or Safe Portals are gateways or access
points onto the Internet. They monitor linked Web sites.
Virus Protection Software detects and protects computer files from programs
that can destroy or corrupt files. Viruses are most often downloaded through
e-mail, Web sites, or from sharing diskettes. New viruses are always being
created; therefore, virus protection software needs to be updated regularly.
The best way to know what your children are doing on the Internet is
to get involved. Join a chat room, surf the Web, share an e-mail account
with them, and access the new world for yourself.
Internet Safety Web Sites
Safe Passage:Teaching Kids to
be Safe and Responsible Online
Chat room safety tips
Internet checklist for parents
Why parents need to know what
their children are doing online
Canada's Children in a Wired
World: The Parents' View. Prepared for Industry Canada, Health Canada,
and Human Resources Development Canada by the Media Awareness Network,
based on analysis by Environics Research Group. This survey of over 1000
Canadian parents offers insight into their opinions about their childern's
Internet use, the benefits and risks of the Internet, and discusses measures
for addressing Internet safety and monitoring online content.
Young Canadians in a Wired World: The Students' View. Prepared
for the Media Awareness Network and the Government of Canada by Environics
Research Group. This survey of nearly 6000 Canadian students looks at
what they do online, and how they perceive the Internet.
Web Awareness for Parents - Managing
the Internet at Home
Elmer the Safety Elephant discusses travelling the information highway
safely on this Canada Safety Council Web site.
* From Young Canadians in a Wired World: The Students' View, October